Common Core State Standards will soon be in classrooms across Michigan, and some of tomorrow’s educators studying at Eastern Michigan University shared their thoughts and concerns about the topic.
EMU senior Kristin Blonde is an elementary education major and said the program has potential but needs time.
“Bringing everyone to the same level is a good idea, but the execution just isn’t there at this point,” she said.
Blonde said she does have some concerns about the new mandates.
“Everyone learns different and at different rates,” she said. “We have to take that into consideration.”
Different variables could play a factor in the effectiveness of CCSS, Blonde said.
“Kids bring their background and home lives into the classroom every day,” she said. “From state to state, that could mean kids learn differently.”
Overall, Blonde said she is still optimistic about her freedom as a teacher to influence her classroom.
“There are so many ways to teach what you want and still meet the standards,” she said. “It’s all in how you look at it.”
The Michigan Department of Education’s website said, “In June 2010, the State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) as the new standards for K-12 mathematics and English language arts. These standards improved upon Michigan’s current standards (the Grade
Level Content Expectations and the High School Content Expectations) by establishing clear and consistent goals for learning, and allow Michigan to work collaboratively with other states to provide curricular support to schools and educators.”
Jeff Schulz is a professor and has taught at EMU for 11 years. He teaches two health education courses and said he sees both promise and potential problems regarding common core.
“I think the general idea is a good thing,” he said. “I’m all for trying to instill a base set of knowledge for all people, but it will kind of depend on what will be included and left out.”
Schulz said his satisfaction with the program will depend on how much leverage is allowed.
“My greatest concern is that they try to create a program that takes away from the individuality of the students and their advisors,” he said. “I would like to see an outline of Common Core before I condemn it, but I think there are classes that people really need and hopefully they will show up in the curriculum.”
EMU junior Kaitlyn Ashbaugh is a special education major and said she is also open to new guidelines for classroom curriculum.
“With the standards changing, teachers will still be able to adapt it to what they want to teach,” she said. “I think it’s a fresh way to try to reach those benchmarks while regrouping and reorganizing material that is more beneficial to students.”
Ashbaugh said she does have concerns about her specific teaching role being included in CCSS.
“From a special education standpoint, it’s hard to say that every student will be able to reach that benchmark regarding standards,” she said. “So that may be a hard thing for them to follow.”
Not every potential teacher sang the new program’s praises.
“From an academic standpoint, I don’t like it,” said EMU freshman Emily Doyle who hopes to teach early childhood education.
“Not every kid will be able to keep up, and it’s not the fault of the child they might need extra time,” she said. “They just aren’t taking into consideration everything they need to.”
EMU junior Morgan Lajiness is a special education major and said it may take some time for educators to adjust to the new changes.
“Teachers might become confused with the transition and important parts of class may be overlooked at the start,” she said.
But Lajiness said she likes the look of the new academic program thus far.
“It seems to be better laid out and easier to understand,” she said. “It is easier to understand what is expected of you as a teacher and what students are supposed to learn.”
The Michigan State Senate is currently working on the details of the new system.
Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, told Michigan Radio last week, “I want people to have a good look at it and hear from some other experts before we do anything. It’s always on our radar screen because it’s an important issue.”
Stephanie Hoffmeister is studying to become a special education teacher and said she would appreciate equal learning for everyone.
“I just don’t like that certain schools are put on higher pedestals than others,” she said. “I think it’s a good idea, because everyone can learn the same things and no one is on higher or lower standards than others.”
Hoffmeister is not concerned about losing control of her syllabus, she said.
“I feel like the standards are a good starting point and then you have some leeway to make it work,” she said.
Hoffmeister echoed the sentiments of everyone interviewed, and said the topic wasn’t a major discussion in her classes and not a concern of her fellow classmates.
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